Fuck Your Valentine: Carla Bozulich Tells A Story From A Harsh Life
, August 18th, 2016 08:01
Constellation artist Carla Bozulich attended a spoken word night at The Cowboy Gallery, LA on February 13 last year. Without planning to she started discussing the serious sexual assault inflicted on her as a child. She sent us this film of the reading and the accompanying essay. Film contains NSFW language
Portrait by Jennifer Kitner
Respected American musician Carla Bozulich contacted us recently with a short film clip, which you can watch below. It is of an impromptu story she told at the Fuck Your Valentine event in Los Angeles last year, concerning a sexual assault she endured while 11 years old. The film and accompanying text are presented to you here exactly as they were sent to us.
Last year Valentines Day. Lydia Lunch, my sister in guts, had invited me to do spoken word at a freak-magnet adventure spot, the Cowboy Gallery, L.A. I don’t know jack from spoken word but I brought some stuff to read and then immediately launched into something completely unrelated. I’m a storyteller — a man like a crazy lady on the porch with a peacock on her head and a bunch of grad students, guys in tutus, dogs and juvie kids sitting around while he rambles and gesticulates about his man-boy from Budapest that taught her how to learn and kiss like there’s truly no tomorrow.
Badwater Bob filmed the Valentine’s story on a broken camera. The beginning’s cut off. There are holes, etcetera, but I’m explaining that I write and view life from a multi-gendered POV and that all of us (me) are happy together. The voices never fight and are never jealous. Love is grand. And then mainly, about the 1st rape…
This film was shot by Badwater Bob on a broken phone
So… I did not do the boat. The fuel line’s not full of lipstick. It’s not painted with giant black letters about how pathetic and kickably dickless it is to rape children. The boat’s not blowtorched or decorated with cabeza and old guts. I presume the motor still runs. The $2,000,000 floating, extended sea cock is still yar as hell, I guess. No poo awaits in his sailor galoshes. I didn’t sick the law or the boys on him. Nothing has happened yet.
ENTER THE PRINCE
I, along with Shahzad Ismaily, wrote an Evangelista song and Constellation released it—Enter The Prince—the lyrics inspired by Muhammad Ali. Boxing is an obsession of mine. It’s war. It’s control. It rarely results in death…… even in strategic attack. I’m interested. Of course I love the underdogs but really, who can resist Ali? My father, Raging Bull, no doubt played a part. Prince is the Grande Dame and I, as the violent, loving creature I am, just lay back and enjoy it, stuffing bon bons in my mouth. My Hungarian prince, intoxicated by kisses, is Ruby.
Enter The Prince was always for Ali and Prince. For that insane glamour and control, for what they provoke and trigger. I just knew the vid would be boxing and diamonds. I found the public domain footage. By Valentine’s this year I was kissing that modest Hungarian prince (normally sleeping perched high in a hallway) in a room so grande I was a bit grossed out. He’s so beautiful I can still barely look at him. Great man. Great teacher of kindness, this Budapest feller. We kissed once, pushed play on Photo Booth and I finished editing it a few days later. Right around Valentine’s Day, 2016.
Enter The Prince, the video, has brought me mischievous joy at every phase making it over these years — riding on the feeling of the song. For me, I feel sick and free and for me there’s something fucking righteous about that. God, I love kissing SO MUCH, for example. At first it was a flashback… I got to fight. I got to be a great, enraptured kisser – fuck them who crossed me. Hell, I fought just to deserve to BE. I looked for myself in the mirror and saw hideous abstract shapes. To look in the mirror and say, yeah, ok. Let’s fucking put on a newsboy outfit and go out and see Christian Marclay blow the fucking black sky off my head… instead of looking in the naked mirror, wishing I didn’t have a pussy, and punching the glass.
Nope, I win. Not the guy who thought he took my life and left a dead bunch of body brains to fester and short-circuit when I was 11 years old. It’s hot here. I slept with the screen door open, alone in the house. I dreamt last nite of telling some maniac that I could hear his fucked up soul and needs and it was horrific. I told him I could get up and we could go sit by the fan at the table and he could eat the slice in the fridge if he wants and tell me something that would keep him from going to prison for the rest of his life or he could end up laying dead bleeding at my feet. I said that, otherwise, he REALLY should not tangle with me. Pretty good dream for a hot nite.
On my best days, I see myself as an evolved kinda man — a powerful faggot with pinpoint control. Sometimes I feel sick and the woman inside me is pissed off and don’t want to be a woman. Want to wear a vintage headdress by Edith Head, yes! But not without a cock tucked under my gown. But there I am—my breasts seem huge and foreign to me. I’m gentle and electronically connected to strangers — medicinal — toxic. Hating that, sometimes—-the way I’m urged to doctor people up when they bleed. PISSED about it. Ready to join the brawl. And then other times I’m super into my pretty body and awkward, funny face. I was a multi-sexual kid before the rape. I know what I was doing even as a well-read, very small child. Girls—their smell, skin, the way they thought… could I get under that dress? This is how I lost my first best friend as a child — trying to show her. She’s the one I use as a security question on so many passwords. Who was your 1st best friend? I wished there was a password to inside her. Lux: What’s Inside A Girl??? I cared not for boys except to fight them and do sports. Now, I can’t imagine making it with a chick without 3 months of confusion but I can love a man for 12 years. Guys… you can hang out… talk about cowboys… Coil… hating guys… cars… chicks that rule the world…! And you can be crass as you want. It’s easy. I like guys a real lot.
Anyway, fighting, in general, is done to win. I’m good. Sometimes to win is just to flick a switch and rise above. Whatever. I’m a winner.
I fight to be gentle sometimes. At that I don’t always win. It’s much like holding tiny birds and not squeezing too hard. Don’t squeeze. And the man, every day, tries not to hurt innocent creatures in my path. And the woman has more control, keeps him in line and obsesses on the art for us both, makes the impossible happen, probably controls the projects like this one.
I reject the rhetoric of being ‘ruined for life’ by a traumatic event — a concept we are ‘sympathetically’ hammered to death with in media and stuff. I think the people who say that are trying to shame the rapist or deter future rapists. But crime shows, new-agers, self-helpers, moms and psyche-dealers can not evolve a dead souled rapist by catch phrases and parading victims who quit all the cool stuff they were doing around. Look, It’s us that are in catacombs and hospitals and bleeding under the covers. We are the ones that are shocked cuz yesterday things were sort of organized and had a basic trajectory. But there are still all sorts of destinations. Even when I could still not talk, I started to paint. That was me. And we’re all totally different — just as before. In a way, we are deemed dead or severely handicapped from the moment people start labeling us victims and survivors and being shoved into re-experiencing ‘suppressed’ memories. That pisses me off.
What is more permanent than ruined? It’s kinda like as fucked as it gets, right? Hollow and finished. I fight. I have to. I’ll fight you. I’ll fight for you.
It was strange to realize I would be lucky. But I slowly did. I would not be ‘ruined forever’. Changed, yeah. Fucking Fruitloops, yeah, but not ruined. Loved. There’s a very surreal world for me where colors and birds and everything is different and pretty math and inside out. Even when it’s just slicing knives it’s like the best abstract adventure book ever. I REALLY get to see like that. Thanks, Motherfucker.
Great things: Now I have best friends who don’t see other people as ‘marks’, I’m still still perverse as fuck, I’ve seen death in good and bad, got safe and quit the drugs, learning, burning, danced up, whispered and rubbed by Ron Athey. Kissed on by drunk girls that made my sober breath drunk with their soft skin. Boys, plain and simple. Men, oh, lord, yeah. La Perla bras, stolen boxer shorts, and the friends like Mynka who, so overwhelmingly marvelous to me, when I said, with my confused, crazy, raped heart — I am in love with you (because they so obviously saw me for who I was and loved it) and they said no, sweetheart, I love you, too, but we are just best friends. For life. Not ‘ruined for life’. Loved for life. At least 4 times that has happened. Thank you.
This is from my story. I know yours might be unlaughable, to say the least. Or maybe you’re an even harder fuck than me. The changes could be much worse than just becoming a street kid, repeatedly raped, beaten criminal person, fighting just not to do major injury to myself or others. And now I gallivant around doing my favorite things and currently kissing the prettiest guy I’ve ever touched. And Prince has died and Ali, too and rape is out of fucking control. And a bunch of girls are STILL dealing with it in our music scene (I had no idea. I have never come remotely close to that in music). And many days I wake up hating. And the world still turns, almost always. If I didn’t think I could never claw my way out I never would have learned to make eye contact or stop fucking stuttering or have so many great times with sex. If there’s any way to get in your mind and think of using the word temporary when you feel ruined go for that cuz yeah, well, for me it took years to start cracking it but I did, for reals.
And in the Valentine video I’m flippant as my feelings about it at that moment were (a lot of fluctuation there re: all the rapes and beatings). But flippant doesn’t respect that jail is a lot fuckter than looking for a couch to crash on is — though 6 months would be far longer than anywhere I’ve been able to stay in a decade. If I make it sound like I’d enjoy a 6 month sentence excuse me people (prisoners) who are in that nightmare but honestly—–I mean this—–I do wish to have some contact with people closer to my old life because I miss you. And I really do want a place to live and work. Shit though, fuck it.
And I’m absolutely not saying my life didn’t change from that day of my 1st rape. My aspirations to be something in the sciences or maybe an author or artist were completely turned on their head. I went to school only for spotty days or whatever… I may not have gotten higher education but skills, I have. I’ve played almost 3000 concerts all over the world with the best musicians alive. I’ve tripped the decibel meter in at least 20 clubs over the years. We’ve been so rotten so many times that it’s countless how many times the police stopped our shows! Yey! Sometimes I live in my car in the mountains. I’ve stayed in Istanbul, Joshua Tree, Palecio, Italy for weeks between tours. Sometimes I sleep in 15th century castles on tour: surprise, here’s your suite, Carla. Kissing is amazing! I don’t know what it would have been like to actually decide to have sex for the first time. Or what I’d be like, sexually, now. I bet I would have been a real choosy individual about that 1st screw. And yeah it took a good 10 years to stop myself from repeating or setting myself up to repeat the damage that had been done by rape and just violence, in general. But now… I have kissed most of the finest humans I know (slut). I have had most of the same best friends for 25 years and keep meeting more people of extremely high and funny character from all over the world. I’ve paraglided off the Himalayas over the Dalai Lamas house. I’ve chosen Tilda Swinton’s wardrobe before we performed at the Royal Symphony Hall. I have made 5 albums for the best label in the world. Victim is simply the stupidest word for my 45% awesome life which excludes when I wake up bummed that I live on. I’ll take that trade. The men who did these crimes got something from me, I guess. But they are the real, pathetic victims. And I know for a fact, I got more. And most of them are stupid and dead.
Obviously in this bragging I’m making a point—–They didn’t get me. In making that point, I’m leaving out the ringworm squats, brutal band fist-fights seconds before getting on stage at Emo’s, all the cops, sleeping in the 100 degree van outside the dreaded Tucumcari and opening for Joan Osborne with mothers literally trying to cover their little daughters’ ears and eyes at the same time.
But I do know what it is to feel like I’m too full, strong, confused and terrified, dumb and dangerous. Don’t you sometimes want to hurt things? I see a woman and she looks maddening or delicious. I want to touch, pull hair, kiss way too hard! Hit even. She is so fucking soft and pretty in her stockings!!!! Control it, Mr. Rise above. Rise above the nature of a malfunctioning man. Don’t squeeze too hard. I say that in my dumb head. And I bet I’m not much different than a lot of fuckin’ asshole guys. I think, it’s cuz she’s a girl. It’s her pretty neck. Mr. Rise above.
But there is a difference and that is that I love you — even if we haven’t yet met. Even if you haven’t yet done the violence I believe you will abandon. I don’t want to hurt any of y’all and I hope hearing me talk about pulling your pretty hair doesn’t rankle you. It’s talk and in extremely rare situations, it’s true, it’s really true. But I love and I rise above. Control. Rise above this fuckin’ snail’s pace evolution. I got this. You can trust me.
The best thing about being mentally changed from a person altering your mind and body is that I work obsessively on all sorts of things like this little project. It is a compulsion. A present. So 15 hours pass day by day for 25 years—-something comes from it. Everything comes from it. Lithium can’t slow it down. I don’t have time for calming things like the Hafler Trio reunion (ummm… please?). I gotta work. Write, draw, record… etc… or I get sick.
And no matter the times I do feel relentless weeks of stabbing inside I don’t identify as a victim. More of a mute, shut screaming alien, actually. Something you can’t hear. Beautiful in purity of pain. Doves crying, for example. I just don’t jive with the atmospheres here on EARTH. I go to motels so I feel safe like tour. Write really fucked songs like, I Lay There In Front Of Me Covered In Ice. Whatever, eventually—–I float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Thank you my hero, Muhammad Ali! Even when I’m sick, I still win.
True, I’ve been jacked up on bi-polar bullshit meds for an eternity and have eaten out of trash cans and led myself into incidents that make that 1st rape seem like a walk in the park (talking many years ago). Dark moments included, I somehow feel mighty. I feel glamorous and powerful, proud and fucking velveteen———like Prince and Muhammad Ali. WINNING. And when someone tries to suck my soul now, or my friend’s, god fucking help THEM.
I saw every fight Muhammad Ali did when I was a little girl. Watched him win the championship and be stripped of it—–resist war speaking out against killing people no different than disenfranchised and fucked over blacks right here in the USA. He would do this thing, this thing where he became more of a man than a man——-and it was so confusing and smart to see him jetison that shit. To see people lose their footing just by the way he knew when to use what parts of his mind and then his body and even just a half smile. His fists swingin’, distributing, knocking confusion to the ground. And Prince——well, for now, just thanks for the first time I heard about ‘Nikki masturbating with a magazine’. That’s one moment I felt, at 16, even with my shamed head and by then already riddled with random stupid incidents of fucking and gnarly institutional nightmares, that there were men twirling in hotel lobbies with irresistibly hilarious diamonds and doves that somehow could make a dirty little girl into a solid awesome monster.
Note: there are hundreds of whale watching companies on the American West Coast. This guy doesn’t work near where I grew up. So, don’t speculate or throw ice cream at some Pedro guy driving a boat. Just enjoy the whales and dolphins and all the other good, fun gents in the world. Dealing with this is my business.
Please watch When We Were Kings. It’s one of the absolute best movies ever.
Carla Bozulich will be touring in the UK and Europe during September and October - full details to follow on the Quietus